US condemns Ukraine ceasefire violation
18 February 2015, 09:19
Washington - US Vice President Joe Biden on
Tuesday blamed separatist fighters and Russian forces as he condemned the
violation of a three-day-old ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and warned of
increased "costs" to Russia.
Biden "strongly condemned the
violation of the ceasefire by separatist forces acting in concert with Russian
forces, in and around the town of Debaltseve," the White House said in a
statement after he spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and
Ukraine agreed a ceasefire deal last week in the Belarus capital Minsk to end
fighting between government troops and pro-Russian rebels which has claimed
more than 5 400 lives in the past year.
But separatists on Tuesday stormed the port
town of Debaltseve, a violation of the ceasefire.
"If Russia continues to violate the
Minsk agreements, including the most recent agreement signed on 12 February,
the costs to Russia will rise," the White House statement added.
Biden and Poroshenko said the ceasefire
violation was confirmed by the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"The vice president also strongly
condemned Russia and the separatists for blocking access to Debaltseve by OSCE
monitors, which is allowing the separatists to continue their attacks without
inhibition," the White House said.
Poroshenko, in a phone conversation with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the assault on Debaltseve, a strategic
rail hub in Ukraine's east, was a "cynical attack" on the truce
brokered last week.